How to Avoid ADHD Christmas Overwhelm

by | Dec 3, 2020 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

christmas overwhelm

Is ADHD holiday stress overwhelm setting in yet? I used to dread Christmas for that very reason. 

Our lives are usually in ADHD overwhelm before the holidays hit. And this year? Aw jeez, don’t get me started. We’re already in O.V.E.R.W.H.E.L.M. Hanging on by our fingernails to just get through the day. Sound about right?

Then the holidays arrive. And we are expected to figure out how to engage in the normal host of merry activities that jingle their way into our already bursting lives every year. 

And now how to balance safety with celebration. It can be incredibly overwhelming!

What Causes ADHD Christmas Overwhelm?

Decisions. There are so many decisions to make.

Who to add to our gift list? What gifts to get? What social gatherings to attend? How to manage traditions when nothing is traditional? What treats to cook? Deciphering our budget. (And, of course, going over budget which adds to our ADHD Christmas overwhelm.)

All those extra decisions can be excruciating for adults with ADHD. Decision paralysis smacks us. 

Then Christmas becomes a cluster of problems instead of a joyous celebration. Especially when we compare ourselves to others without ADHD. We envy all the beautifully decorated homes. And, why can other people manage to send Christmas cards on time?

And it’s sometimes the little things that get us. When we forget to buy that present for Great Uncle John. Or we buy the wrong bottle of sherry we’ve purchased every year for decades. 

I’m feeling overwhelmed just writing this blog! 

Some of my clients love this time of year and all the extras. But for most of us, Christmas is just plain hard.

Simplify Your Season

Here’s what I’ve learned to overcome ADHD Christmas overwhelm:

1)    Rethink Gifts: As a family, we focus more on memories. One year I gave my husband and daughter a skydiving trip. Another time I gave my husband the gift of a getaway for us to stay on the coast not too far from our house. We still treasure these memories.

2)    Reassess Christmas Cards: I stopped writing Christmas cards years ago. I also decided I’m not going to feel guilty about it. Because writing Christmas cards was something I procrastinated on every year. I held it over my head, and it made Christmas a nightmare. Yes, I’d love to be in contact with all these people I adore. But if they love me, they’re going to love me whether they get a Christmas card or not.

3)    Make Shopping Easier: Successful Christmas shopping for me means I don’t step foot in the mall. I like to shop at smaller stores nearby. I’m helping local businesses, and I find the most interesting things there! And, of course, online shopping is easy, safe and you don’t have to get out of your pajamas to do it! (One ADHD Success reader is giving her sister my Organized for Life! Book bundle for Christmas.)

4)    Limit Decorations: Many of us with ADHD struggle to stay organized. Clutter actually confuses and overwhelms us. All the extra holiday decorations add to the clutter. I keep my decorations very minimal. As I pull decorations out, I stash photos and knick knacks in the Christmas decorations bins. That way I’m not adding Christmas decorations to the stuff that’s up all year long. (Next week I share my decorating tips.)

5)  This year, let go of what you normally do and be open to new ways you can celebrate. The ADHD brain is uniquely qualified to be creative and develop new traditions and alternative ways of doing things. You just might find that you prefer celebrating in a new way!

How can you avoid ADHD Christmas overwhelm this year? Simplify. Have clear ideas about what you want to do and what you don’t want. Drop the things on your list that don’t improve your spirit. Then focus on the things that make you happy. 

May you enjoy a safe Merry, and overwhelm-free, Christmas season this year!

Want more tips to help with the holidays?


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